Charlesgate Helps Pioneer Intergenerational Program with Rhode Island College

participants in the Rhode Island College/Charlesgate intergenerational program

Since the beginning of time, generations have had their differences. Many baby boomers grew up having grandparents say “When I was your age …” implying that their generation led a much more challenging life than those of the grandkids. Today, many baby boomers see millennials as lazy and entitled, while many millennials see baby boomers as the generation that destroyed their future. All of this creates an environment that is unhealthy for people of all ages.

Studies show that young people who spend less time with older adults are more likely to have negative thoughts and beliefs about aging, which, in turn negatively affects their ability to age well. Research by Yale School of Public Health shows that younger people also are damaged by these negative beliefs. When younger people talk about seniors as “a burden,” make ugly jokes about the physical changes of aging, or hold unflattering stereotypes of the worth of older people, they reduce their own chances of healthy aging.

For their part, seniors who isolate themselves from younger adults lose out on building a legacy for the future, which gives them a sense of purpose. A study from the American Sociological Association showed that giving advice to younger people is an important emotional need for older adults. Connecting with younger adults also helps older people stay young in thought and mind.

With all of this in mind, Charlesgate Park Apartments recently partnered with Rhode Island College (RIC) School of Nursing for their first ever Intergenerational Service Learning Course. RIC nursing students meet 2-3 times a week with a Charlesgate Park resident to interact and learn from each other. 

Liz Bode, the Residential Service Coordinator of Charlesgate Park, introduced the program to eligible residents who were 55 and over. To ensure a meaningful match, Interested residents filled out a questionnaire on what they would like to learn from their student visitor. Residents could check off activities such as learning about technology, learning about healthy eating and exercise, discussing current events and much more. Annette Alve from Age Friendly Rhode Island and Rhode Island College assistant professor Sharon Galloway then matched the residents with the students based on similar interests. Residents and students meet weekly and both are enthusiastic about the program.

Annette Alve told Liz Bode, “You certainly recruited some lively, positive and engaging residents to become our students’ companions for the semester. Everyone left happy and inspired.”

You can learn more about the program, read the Rhode Island College story here.


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